Rich Aucoin @ Biltmore -- 09/15/12

"When you give it all up, you get it back." Those are just some of the lyrics that can be heard chanted at Rich Aucoin's shows, and I can't think of a better way to describe them. Aucoin has been criss-crossing the country tirelessly since the release of his album We're All Dying To Live last year, and gaining the reputation of one of the best live shows you will see. He dropped by the Biltmore in Vancouver -- on his birthday no less -- to prove it.

Opening the night was Data Romance from Vancouver. The duo of Ajay Bhattacharyya on drum pads and Amy Kirkpatrick on keys and vocals creates a moody, synth-infused electronic vibe. Amy's voice is soft and ethereal, adding to the dark atmosphere of the songs. For almost the entire set they were content to just play, not saying much, but near the end Amy thanked us and wished Rich a happy birthday, before getting back to it. They were really tight, playing off each other really well, and had an interesting sound, with a lot of the set being a bit of a slower tempo, but they picked it up for the last couple, which were a lot more high energy and danceable, getting the lingering crowd up on the dance floor. It was a strong set from the pair, and I would definitely check them out again.

As soon as Data Romance wrapped up their set Rich Aucoin started to set up, but not on the stage -- he set up his table with his keys and drummers on either side in front of the stage, in the crowd. When they were done and ready to go, Rich give a brief explanation as to what was going to happen; he writes his songs to sync up to old movie clips, which would be projected behind him, and what was a movie without trailers? After a giant sing along to the 20th Century Fox fanfare, there were a couple funny clips, which lead into the "opening credits", a series of slides with fun "facts" about people from the audience. The excitement built until the music started with an explosion of confetti, and the pure joy and fun did not let up for the next hour.
Aucoin is an amazing performer with so much charisma. Very few others would be able to get nearly an entire venue down on one knee, or unravel a giant parachute -- the kind from when you were in elementary school -- and get everyone to play Popcorn and then dance under it. Rich even goes into the crowd frequently, making everyone a part of the show. You don't just watch a Rich Aucoin concert, you experience it.
And of course, the spectacle would be nothing without the songs. Incredibly catchy and high energy songs like "P:U:S:H", "Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E." and "Undead" had the crowd yelling along with the lyrics, helpfully up on the screen, and jumping up and down. The set came to an end with the bombastic "It" and Aucoin even crowd surfing and bringing everyone in for a giant cheer. And, as usual, Rich left up a slide with his actual phone number on it, telling people that if they texted him, he would send you a zip file of some of his music. (I did this the first time I saw him, and got his Public Publication EP)

It's hard to sum up a show like this in words, and I don't think I could even begin do it justice, but Rich Aucoin's live shows will leave you grinning for days afterwards. They are high energy, fun, life affirming, and just pure bliss. If I could watch him play every night, I would.